It is important to take notice of the incredible work of people and groups around the world advocating for more just food systems. One such group is the Street Vendor Project, in New York City, which organizes around an important and often overlooked side of urban food systems: street vendors.
Working in partnership with the Urban Justice Centre, the Street Vendor Project comprises over 2 thousand vendors, who fight for the rights of street vendors and for permanent change in the city. The majority of New York street vendors are people of colour and new immigrants, who work long, dangerous hours to make ends meet. In recent years, street vendors have been subject to the ‘quality of life’ crackdown in New York City, which has seen denials of vending licenses, pushback from large business interests, and exorbitant tickets for small violations. The project organizes demonstrations to raise awareness of the struggles vendors are facing, as well as facilitates education on their legal rights and aids in legal disputes.
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit New York especially hard, the Street Vendors Project has provided a conduit for vendors to rally together and support their community. One such show of support has been vendor teams in The Bronx and Brooklyn providing weekly nutritious meals to working-class families in their communities.
The Street Vendors Project is a shining example of the power and possibilities that come with solidarity movements, and reminds us of the work that needs to be done to ensure an equitable food system for all.
No matter what the election outcome may be, we will continue to organize and grow our power as street vendors who support NYC. Every human being has the right to a dignified life, and it is through grassroots organizing and community building that we make this possible. There are 20,000 street vendors in NYC, primarily immigrants, people of color, and women, who come through for New Yorkers rain or shine to keep our city running. Even in one of the most progressive cities in the country, racist and xenophobic laws targeting street vendors prevent our smallest businesses from thriving. The cap on permits forces thousands of New Yorkers to either work in fear of police harassment without one, or rent a permit in the underground market for up to $25,000. This broken system has gone on for far too long, and with your support we can pass vending reform for the first time in 37 years!
October 16, 2020 was World Food Day, an annual event established by the United Nations with the aim of increasing awareness of various food issues facing the global community, such as world hunger and poverty, and inspiring strategies for the betterment of the global food system and solutions for lasting change. Unlike previous World Food Days, this year we had the opportunity to reflect on the extensive and far-reaching impacts that COVID-19 has had on food systems in Canada and abroad. To celebrate this monumental World Food Day, and to highlight the impacts of COVID-19 on the Canadian food system, the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems hosted the webinar Centering Justice in Canada’s Food System. This webinar explored various challenges and inequities within the food system that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, with a particular focus on the disproportionate impacts that COVID-19 has had on BIPOC communities and migrant agricultural workers across the country.
The webinar was moderated by Alison Blay-Palmer, Director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and UNESCO Chair on Food, Biodiversity, and Sustainability Studies. Among the webinar speakers were Gabriel Allahdua from Justice for Migrant Workers, Janet McLaughlin from the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, Melana Roberts from Food Secure Canada and the Toronto Food Policy Council, and Stephanie Morningstar from the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust. The speakers discussed how food system inequities have been exacerbated by COVID-19, as well as the impacts of the pandemic on their own work. They also suggested various strategies for collaboration among various actors and interest groups to create a just, representative, and equitable food system.
The speakers engaged in a productive and insightful conversation regarding the state of the Canadian food system. Regarding the experiences of Black Canadians amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Melana Roberts emphasized the importance of bringing forward underrepresented racialized voices that have been silenced in the food system. In highlighting these silenced voices, we may cultivate diversity within the systems of knowledge, governance, and growing that are present within the Canadian food system. In doing so, we may shift the disproportionate
impacts of various food system inequities and disparities away from vulnerable populations, and instead support community building and economic revitalization in local capacities. Stephanie Morningstar further discussed these inequities present within the food system, as experienced by Indigenous farmers and within Indigenous communities. They emphasized that Indigenous nations across the country have been robbed of their traditional foodways and denied equal access to the land, money, and infrastructure needed to thrive within the agricultural sector. Going forward, attention must be placed on repairing relationships with Indigenous nations, so as to build networks of solidarity that may allow communities to heal from disparities in land and food access.
Gabriel Allahdua and Janet McLaughlin further discussed inequities within the Canadian food system, specifically with regard to the treatment of migrant agricultural workers. Gabriel thoroughly critiqued the programs which bring migrant workers into the country, including the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. These programs allow for gross human rights abuses against migrant workers, who are alienated, exploited, and silenced by their employers and the Canadian government. He condemned these injustices experienced by migrant workers across the country, which have been enshrined into Canadian law. Janet further explored these injustices as they have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. She explained that workers have not been adequately protected from the health and safety risks associated with the agricultural field, and have been exposed to structural restraints that render them disposable and interchangeable despite their integral role in the Canadian food system.
Following a thorough examination of various disparities across the Canadian food landscape, as experienced by BIPOC communities and migrant agricultural workers, the presenters suggested various strategies that could be employed to create an equitable and representative food system following the COVID-19 pandemic. Melana Roberts asserted that COVID-19 has enabled the global community to recognize the food system inequities which existed prior to the pandemic, and has provided an opportunity for said inequities to be addressed in a way that increases resilience. Stephanie Morningstar urged that independent BIPOC farmers must be supported in their journeys of sustainable food production. Gabriel Allahdua and Janet
McLaughlin both demanded that migrant workers be granted full status, labour rights, and protections upon arrival to Canada, and urged that the essential labour of migrant agricultural workers be recognized and valued rather than ignored.
The moment that we have found ourselves in, as Canadians and members of the global community, is unprecedented. In this moment we have the opportunity to rethink our food landscape, and to recognize who does, and who does not, have a seat at the table. We can reflect on the actors that currently govern our food system and amend relationships in a way that honours the diverse perspectives present within our country, that consider what food should be grown, where it should be grown, and how it should be shared. It is imperative that this opportunity be seized in Canada, so as to ensure the creation of an equitable food system that actively supports the health and welfare of everyone who lives here.
ONLINE – Feeding the City, Pandemic and Beyond: Voices from Local Grocery Stores and Public Markets in a Diverse City
Wed, 28 October 2020 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT | REGISTRATION REQUIRED via EventBrite
How have local markets and grocery stores pivoted in the time of COVID-19 to continue feeding their communities? How can these local businesses help build a resilient food system in a diverse city? What new challenges and opportunities lay ahead? Join us from Tkaronto (Toronto) for an interactive roundtable featuring:
Mario Masellis – Mario is a second-generation Italian-Canadian grocer. He and his family own Masellis, a grocery store that has operated at the same Toronto location since 1959. Each week, they deal with more than twenty-five small producers, and are locally renowned for making heritage foods, such as their own Italian sausage, and for personalized customer advice on everything from cheese to rosemary plants.
Ran Goel – Ran is founder and CEO of Fresh City Farms. He describes the business as a “values driven company” which aims to source locally and organically whenever possible, and to operate sustainably with minimal environmental impact and high labour standards. They grow a portion of their produce at their urban farm, while the remainder of their products are sourced from Southern Ontario and abroad.
Marina Queirolo – Marina is a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council, and previously managed food programs at the Evergreen Brickworks where she created a suite of programs to promote food literacy, community development, local entrepreneurship, and placemaking. When she first moved to Canada from Argentina, she was renowned for her sûrkl empanadas that sold at fine food shops and farmers markets.
Jointly moderated by Jayeeta (Jo) Sharma, Associate Professor of History and Food Studies at the Culinaria Research Centre of the University of Toronto, and Project Lead for Feeding the City; and Jaclyn Rohel, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Culinaria Research Centre.
Join us for this webinar featuring important Indigenous food scholars, activists, and thinkers as they share what ‘Canada’ means to them and their food systems work. The panelists include Dawn Morrison, James Whetung, and Dr. Clifford Atleo. Tabitha Robin will moderate the discussion.
As our association reckons with the sustained systemic racism and ongoing state violence waged disproportionately against racialized, Black and Indigenous people, we are committed to learning to better work within an anti-racism paradigm, as outlined in our recent public statement. As food scholars, educators, and activists, we have a collective responsibility to acknowledge these truths and work to actively confront and challenge them through research, teaching, critical analysis, and collective action. We also need to look inward. Recently, some CAFS members have questioned the use of “Canadian” in the names of both our association and journal (Canadian Food Studies/La Revue canadienne des études sur l’alimentation). We have had discussions internally, but it is equally important to provide a platform to have these discussions publicly. This webinar series was put together to help frame this reflection, and to start us off on the right path.
Please join us Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm ET (1:00 pm MT / 2:00 pm CT / 4:00 pm AT / 4:30 pm NT). Registration via Eventbriteis required. Confirmed participants will be sent a Zoom link.
This webinar kicks off a series of CAFS Webinars, designed to engage the CAFS on a broad range of food-related issues. The next one will take place on November 19, 2020—a conversation between Dr. Kelly Bronson and Dr. Michael Carolan, probing the complexities within the rise of digital agriculture.
The month of October is full of amazing events an learning moments available from the Ecolological Farmers Association of Ontario and is dedicated to developing skills in sustainable agriculture and showcasing life on sustainable farms. These events are greatly beneficial to those who are interested in farming, gardening and sustainable agriculture.
There are a few great events going of in this list including numerous virtual field days. For those of those interested in learning more you can read below or click the link here to find out more.
Events coming up this month with the EFAO:
Virtual Field Day Regenerative Agriculture on Diversified Farms Oct 13 $5 Online via Zoom Join us for virtual tours of two diversified organic farms employing regenerative practices.Manorun Organic Farm is a 25 acre family run farm near Dundas, producing vegetables, herbs, pasture raised livestock, grain and hay. Sideroad Farm in Walter’s Falls produces Certified Organic vegetables, cut flowers and pasture-raised chickens and eggs. This event is offered in partnership with the Organic Council of Ontario as part of the Fall Field Day Series.
Virtual Field Day Regenerative Dairy Oct 15 $5 Online via Zoom Learn about regenerative dairy from Upper Canada Creamery, a certified organic farm that produces grass-fed dairy products including milk, yogurt and cheese, with unique management approaches including a rotary dairy system, strip grazing, water conservation and more. Owner and operator Joshua Biemond will give participants an in-depth look at the processes and practices employed by this unique dairy farm. This event is offered in partnership with the Organic Council of Ontario and the Canadian Organic Growers as part of the Fall Field Day Series.
Virtual Field Day Artisanal Livestock Oct 14 $5-10 Online via Zoom Thinking of including livestock in your operation? You won’t want to miss this virtual tour of Meeting Place Organic Farm! Second-generation farmer Katrina McQuail will share the ins and outs of raising small-scale, artisanal livestock. This event is offered as part of the Ignatius Farm New Farmer Training Program and in partnership with CRAFT SW ON.
Virtual Field Day Collaborative Farm Sales Oct 20 $5 Online via Zoom Green Circle Food Hub was formed by farmers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kendal Hills Farm serves as the collection point and in collaboration with other local farms, coordinates the distribution of farm products directly to consumers. Participants will view a pre-recorded tour of Kendal Hills Farm and learn about the founding and daily operations of Green Circle Food Hub. Farmers from Kendal Hills Farm and Lunar Rhythm Gardens, who sell through the hub, will join the live discussion session.
This annual report by Dalhousie University has come up with some new figures and information in regards to the trajectory of food prices within the nation. It is a great source of information as we get to see major issues affecting food pathways as well as the ways in which the cost of food has slowly been rising.
Canada’s Food Price Report marks 10 years of helping consumers understand their annual grocery bill
“Canada’s Food Price Report 2020 is released jointly by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph. Predictions are made using historical data sources, machine learning algorithms, and predictive analytics tools developed over many years.”
2020 report forecasts 2 to 4% increase in food prices for Canadian families
Overall the report is an important piece of information to better understand the current trajectory of food costs in the nation.
To download a copy of the report please click here
How have individuals’ and families’ food-related activities changed as a result of COVID-19, particularly in light of school closures and rising food insecurity? How can urban growing and government- and community-level initiatives help build a resilient food system? Join the Feeding the City team from Tkaronto (Toronto) as we hear from three experts on these questions:
Rhonda Teitel-Payne is the Co-coordinator of Toronto Urban Growers (TUG). She has been active for over 20 years with programs such as The Stop Community Food Centre, Toronto Community Garden Network, and the World Crops project.
Debbie Field is the Coordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food and Associate Member, Centre for Studies in Food Security, at Ryerson University. She was the Executive Director of FoodShare for 25 years.
Utcha Sawyers is the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of East Scarborough. She was an inaugural member of Food Secure Canada’s Board of Directors (2013-2017), and is an international Food Justice, Equity & Access consultant and advocate.
Moderated by Jayeeta (Jo) Sharma and Sarah Elton. Jo is an Associate Professor of History and Food Studies at the Culinaria Research Centre of the University of Toronto, and the Project Lead for Feeding the City. Sarah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University, and the author of several award-winning popular books on urban food systems. Supported by the Culinaria Research Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough
This event has also showcased a large part of the issues that have been affecting the Black community as a whole and the ways in which we as a society must choose to move forward together. One such event was the live Panel discussion.
The PROOF (Food Insecurity Policy Research) team’s important new publication analyses how compared with fully food-secure adults, marginally, moderately, and severely food-insecure adults presented 26 percent, 41 percent, and 69 percent higher odds of acute care admission and 15 percent, 15 percent, and 24 percent higher odds of having same-day surgery, respectively. Conditional on acute care admission, food-insecure adults stayed from 1.48 to 2.08 more days in the hospital and incurred $400–$565 more per person-year in acute care costs than their food-secure counterparts, with this excess cost representing 4.4 percent of total acute care costs.